Researchers from Cranfield University have launched a new survey to identify the public’s views on robot ethics, on behalf of the UK Robot Ethics group (UKRE).

The use of robots in society is set to increase, as technology develops and becomes more affordable for consumers, leading to greater ethical concerns around robots in domestic settings. This inquiry will examine people’s views on how robots should be integrated into everyday lives and whether there are restrictions that society should put on their use.

The survey presents six different scenarios to gather people’s views on whether robots should, in the future, be allowed to undertake various roles, such as:

  • Robots used for childcare in the home
  • Surgical robots in a hospital
  • Domestic servant robots in a care home
  • Workplace assistant robots in a factory
  • Robots in a war/conflict zone
  • Companion robots

Members of the public are being invited to take part in the online survey.

The results of the survey will be used to inform UKRE’s work as part of the British Standards Institute’s AMT/010 committee who develop standards for the design and application of robots in society.

Dr Sarah Fletcher, Senior Research Fellow in Cranfield University’s Industrial Psychology and Human Factors group which is leading this research, said: “As robot technology develops and becomes more accessible to industrial and domestic markets, important ethical questions need to be addressed by regulators.

“Are people comfortable to have a robot operating on them, looking after their child, or working with or next to them in the workplace? These are all imminent possibilities so it is important that those who design and implement robots are regulated, not only to ensure safety but also to accord with the views of wider society on what is acceptable.”

Care-O-bot bringing a drink
An example of how robots can help around the home

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.